Your lawyer is an extension of your marketing department

Seth Godin believes that your lawyer is an extension of your marketing department:

Most lawyers view their job as a defensive one. They use phrases like, “keeping you out of trouble.”

Unfortunately, when they interact with the public or with a partner or even a landlord, they are marketing your organization, whether they want to or not.

Consider the case of a drugstore chain that accidentally sent out a second rebate check (for $4) to hundreds or thousands of customers. The lawyer drafted a note telling customers (remember, these are the valuable ones, the ones that take action) to discard the second check. Included this line:

We are informing you of this error so you do not incur returned check fees

from your bank, since the check is not valid. Please destroy the duplicate


So, in other words, if you cash the second check by mistake, you’re going to have to pay your bank a $25 bounced check fee on a $4 check because of an error the drugstore made.

One of my favorite lawyers has come to understand that she can do better for her company, negotiate better deals and build better, more profitable customers by acting like a marketer first, a lawyer second.

Scratch that.

Acting like a marketer first is being a good lawyer.

This idea really appeals to me.  If you think about it what Godin is saying is so true.  We forget that your lawyer speaks on your behalf and, in the process, presents a particular image of you to the people he/she is dealing with.  This can be subtle or overt.  An example of a subtle presentation of your company is the way your lawyer treats his/her opponents and words his/her letters.  A more overt way your lawyer presents you to the world is what your lawyer says about you in legal proceedings and how your lawyer goes about either working in or against your interests.

Bottom line?  Make sure your lawyer represents something you agree with or believe in because while your lawyer is out there acting on your behalf, potential clients are forming opinions about you based on what your lawyer says and does (this is a strong argument for making sure you know what your lawyer is doing and why).

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